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Commentary: A message to Atlanta Braves fans

Written by Austin Wells, Staff Writer

For the first 10 years of my life, the Atlanta Braves couldn’t lose. The 10 years after have not been so pretty.

But be brave, Brave fans—the future is bright. Very bright.

So this is what you can do to keep the fan base’s future just as bright: be supportive, be present and be loud. Even in the darkest of times, you’re an Atlanta fan.

If you were there for the days of Greg Maddux’s masterful performances on the mound; if you were there for the days of Andruw Jones flying down balls in the outfield; if you were there to see the Braves return to the postseason in Bobby Cox’s farewell tour, there is no reason to jump ship now. Watch the next dynasty grow before your own eyes, be it on television or at Turner Field, which is hosting its final season of Braves baseball.

The Braves have done a lot of rebuilding the past couple of years, trading away fan-favorite stars such as Jason Heyward, Craig Kimbrel and Andrelton Simmons. Despite this, there is hope in sight.

Atlanta went from having one of the worst farm systems to a top 5 farm system by trading away stars and loading up on prospects.

By doing this, however, 2015 resulted in a tough 95 loss season for the Bravos. 2016 probably won’t be any better, but that shouldn’t stop you from supporting your Atlanta Braves.

The rotation this season will be made up of stop-gap, back of the rotation veterans like Bud Norris. It will also include young pitchers still trying to reach their full potential, like Matt Wisler and Mike Foltynewicz (two pitchers acquired in recent trades the Braves have made). Although staff ace Julio Teheran is primed for a good year, the other rotation pieces and a pieced together bullpen could result in struggles from the pitching unit.

Although they could slump, they could also thrive. If the team comes to the stadium and only see 10,000 fans or fewer, it’ll be hard to find the motivation. Imagine, however, walking out to warm up and seeing almost all the seats filled, despite the forecast of a down year. That won’t just result in motivation, that’ll give them determination—determination to play their heart out for all the fans still showing their support.

Now, think of the lineup, which will mostly be made up of aging veterans who might not even be able to hit above the Mendoza line. A lot of those guys, like AJ Pierzynski and Nick Swisher, will go out thinking they can still be great and still help a team succeed.

How do you think that feeling will change if they walk out to an almost empty stadium? Probably not for the better. Imagine, though, the Braves going out to batting practice and already seeing many seats filled with fans ready for a win? They’ll start feeling determined just like the pitchers.

I understand it’ll be hard—there’s a good chance the Braves are not going to be anywhere close to a good team this year. Not to mention a lot of Braves fans are used to the winning in years past, and won’t want to come see a mediocre team occupy Turner Field.

With enough fans though, with more sellouts than expected and fans still going out, there’s no doubt that Braves team will play all-out for every fan there.

You shouldn’t stop with the major league team, though—remember that top five farm system I was telling you about? There are plenty of prospects, highly-touted prospects, ready for their chance to shine.

If they want to succeed, a huge part will be confidence. If fans go out to not only see the Atlanta Braves but the Gwinnett Braves and Mississippi Braves as well, , the prospects will find that lit flame too—and if they start reaching their potential because of it, the sky is the limit for this franchise.

The struggles will still be there, both in the minors and majors, and drinking and praying might become involved if you want to get through some of the rough patches. But stay strong and stay supportive, Braves fans, because in 2017, when those prospects start coming of age and joining the major league team in the fancy new SunTrust Park, the struggles are going to disappear—and your patience and support will be greatly reward

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